New international project to investigate heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices – Københavns Universitet

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15. marts 2016

New international project to investigate heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices

Professor Oscar Salemink is lead researcher of the new international project “HERILIGION” which will investigate the paradoxes and tensions inherent in the heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices within Europe. The project is funded by HERA – Humanities in the Research Area with a total of 1.2 million euro

How does the heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices relate to religious and secular experiences connected to these? A new big scale, international project will try to give the answer. The project “HERILIGION” is led by Professor Oscar Salemink, Department of Anthropology at University of Copenhagen, and brings together researchers from The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the UK and Denmark.

Iconoclasm by ISIS and Al Qaida

HERILIGION seeks to investigate the paradoxes and tensions inherent in the heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices within Europe. The project will look into how the heritagization of religious sites, objects and practices relates to religious and secular discourses and experiences connected to these sites, objects and practices, and in particular to secular and religious forms of sacralization linking past, present and future, using primarily ethnographic methods.

Destruction of icons in Zürich 1524

The research will take place in Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the UK, comparing them with each other as well as with heritage contexts in Asia, Africa and Latin America where all PI’s have first-hand research experience. In exploring this theoretical new terrain, HERILIGION will shed new light onto an issue that increasingly vexes secular, liberal sensibilities in the West, namely the iconoclasm against heritage sites and objects perpetrated by groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS. However, HERILIGION does not investigate iconoclasm directly, but investigates the complex and sometimes fraught connection between the categories of heritage and religion – in terms of mutual enhancement and/or iconoclasm – by explicitly theorizing this connection in terms of secularization and sacralization.

At the International forefront

The project, which will run from 2016 to 2019, has a total budget of 1.245.720 euro of which 1.196.320 euro comes from HERA -  Humanities in the Research Area. In its final evaluation of the project HERA concluded that the project is “at the forefront internationally and will have a substantial and innovative academic and non-academic impact”.

The participating researchers in "The heritagization of religion and the sacralization of heritage in contemporary Europe" are:

Professor Oscar Salemink
University of Copenhagen
Department of Anthropology

Dr Irene Stengs, Senior Researcher
Meertens Institute - Research and documentation of
Dutch language and culture
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dr Anna Maria Niedźwiedź, Assistant Professor
Uniwersytet Jagielloński (Jagiellonian University in Kraków)
Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty
of History

Professor Maria Clara Saraiva
Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia/Centre
for Research in Anthropology (CRIA)
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas- Universidade
Nova de Lisboa
Lisboa, Portugal

Dr Ferdinand de Jong, Senior Lecturer
University of East Anglia
School of Art, Media and American Studies
Norwich, United Kingdom